Thursday, February 6, 2014

20 years ago

I forgot to post this in January, but it's my 20-year Tokyo-versary.
I only remembered to post this today because I helped feed a hundred hungry missionaries at a Zone Conference in my area. Being in a room buzzing with young missionary energy is an exciting, joyful thing, and it brought back lots of memories.
 Twenty years ago I packed up my college apartment and moved to Japan to be a nanny and housekeeper for my parents and two younger sibs. My dad was a mission president, so we always had missionaries hanging out at our house. These pictures are the only ones I have on my computer (the rest of my japan pics are in storage right now).
 These pictures are of us hiking Mt. Fuji. Yes, I'm cool because I hiked a volcano in Japan. I'm even cooler because of the giant t-shirt and huge striped Mickey Mouse baseball cap I'm wearing. And also that I tied my water bottle around my waist inside of my hugely enormous rolled-up sweatshirt (hey, it was the early 90's. Baggy was IN.)
 I loved Tokyo. Everything about it was amazing:
The people were beautiful and helpful, the language was lovely, the festivals were full of tradition and history. I could hop on a train and go wherever I wanted without the struggle of driving and parking on super-crowded streets. The garbage truck played a sweet tune as it passed by and picked up stinky trash. Not having a "real" job (whoever said doing a ton of dishes and laundry isn't a real job never did a ton of laundry and dishes...) or schooling gave me plenty of time to learn a little Japanese and read lots of good books to improve myself. And having missionaries around all the time made life interesting -- a plethera of stories to hear and a menagerie of personalities to watch.

Even the hard parts were wonderful:
The aroma of food cooking and sewers stewing all at the same time. If I ever smell that now, I want to gag and also take a deep breath all at once because it instantly brings me back to Tokyo.
Living with my family after being away at college for a year was hard but great, too, as I tried to find a balance of becoming a grownup and remaining their child at the same time.
I struggled with my testimony more in Tokyo than at any other time in my life. I read the scriptures and prayed with all of my soul, and when I thought my answer would never come, {this} primary song I'd totally forgotten about flowed into my heart as peace washed over me: "Pray, he is there. Speak, he is listening. You are his child. His love now surrounds you. He hears your prayer..."  Because of that experience, I will never ever doubt there is a God, even when the world starts to confuse me again and again. But He spoke to my spirit. I felt it. I know it without a doubt. He knows who I am and he loves me despite my weaknesses.
All these memories rushed back to me as I served lunch at the zone conference today. As you can see in this picture on the day I flew back to America, I was sad to leave. I was ready to go back to college life and move forward with school and marriage and a career, but leaving Japan was hard. I long to go back, even 20 years later.

I think I'll feel the same way about The Swamp when we move. I'm sure we'll feel the same way about many other places as Chris and I get older and go through intense experiences in different places.

Shakespeare knew what he was talking about. Parting is such sweet-sorrow. Happy Tokyo-versary to me :)

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